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CE/Majap Dealers’ Sales Down 12% In April

Washington — April sales at electronic and appliance stores decreased 2.8 percent seasonally adjusted from March and 11.9 percent unadjusted from last year, according to retail sales figures released today by the U.S. Commerce Department.

The month-to-month decline for CE/majap dealers was the steepest of all reported retail channels, while the drop in year-over-year sales accelerated from the 8.8 percent slide in March and 1 percent falloff in February.

By comparison, total retail sales including car dealers, gas stations and restaurants slipped 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted from March and 9.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Rosalind Wells, chief economist for the National Retail Federation trade association (NRF), said the data suggest consumers aren’t ready to resume discretionary spending.  “A depressed labor market and lack of consumer confidence continues to play a role in what people buy and how much they spend,” she said. “Noticeable changes in consumer spending will take some time as the economy continues to rebuild itself through the rest of the year.”

But Goldman Sachs retail analyst Matt Fassler believes the CE sales data is probably distorted by the exclusion of Circuit City and the effect of the Easter calendar shift, which “can make March and April data quite volatile,” he said in a research note. Moreover, April sales for companies reporting monthly results “broadly met or beat expectations, and recent weekly data suggests no material slowdown,” he observed.